Who Are These Bloggers?
I know, I know... This news has already hit the internet like a hurricane and yet, the waves continue. And of course, these types of things always hurt the most when delivered from someone with whom you have the ultimate girl crush on. If no one cared about Martha Stewart, no one would care about her comment, right? But since so many do and it is understandable why, some have asked me - Do I think she was right or wrong? I think she was voicing her opinion and you have to be ready to hear both the good and the bad from others in any field that you're in. It's not always going to be rosy, glowing and dripping with sticky sweetness. Sometimes we have to listen to criticism in our communities, not blame the source, but really THINK about where this is coming from. One thing I learned from my favorite psychology professor that stuck with me for years, that I try to teach to my own students today, is the value in criticism. Most people RUN from it. Don't. This isn't to say that someone calling you lazy or dumb is valuable because often, people tell you what they think about themselves - you are just at the wrong place at the wrong time. And other times, maybe you were being dumb or lazy about something and that's good to consider because you may need to learn more about something or work on your tendency to flake out. All constructive things that, although came in a very ugly package, can still be a gift.
I thought that for all of the bloggers out there who felt offended by the recent comments made by Martha Stewart about bloggers, that we could think about ways to become even better at what we do. Because as my grandmother always told me, "That which doesn't kill you can only make you stronger". Self-reflection can be an invaluable tool of growth that can literally transform you along with your blog and your business.
Another thing I thought about it that maybe we can, as a community, answer her question, "Who are these bloggers?" through our own blogs - you know, writing better bios on our sites, speaking more openly with others about our backgrounds, having more courage. I've met thousands of bloggers through my e-courses and I try to challenge them to think about who they are and what their intention is, what they're best at and how they can really showcase that online. So many bloggers are way too shy in their bios. I remember a workshop that my adorable friend Steffi Luxat and I taught together in Hannover last winter and one of the students was terrified to write in her bio about the ribbons and things that she designs that are sold ALL OVER GERMANY. I couldn't understand this and Steffi asked her WHY and she meekly replied that she didn't want to make others feel jealous or like she was showing off. In speaking with many bloggers, this hasn't been so uncommon. Lots of women, especially, tend to devalue their work. Do you?
Maybe it's worth considering for your own blog to have a stronger bio on your site, a better About Me page, that says who you really are. No need to be vague. What's your mission? Here's mine. I believe that bloggers have some amazing stuff to share and tell about themselves if they'd just demonstrate more confidence and go for it.
Why does this matter? Lots of reasons. It's good for you first because it can help you value your own work more. It's great for your current readers because you may reveal some things no one has known about you before, giving them more respect for what you're doing online. It's also good for the reputation of our community because it's a way that we can all answer a question that not only Martha, but people active in magazines and even television often ask - Who Are These Bloggers? They know what we're doing and how popular we are but trust me, more than Martha asks this question. Hundreds of people in the media ask and often, they don't really know the answer. Why do you think so many of them approach bloggers to work for free - to write for their websites, to use their photographs at no charge, to attend their events and report on them without pay... They don't know most of our backgrounds, our value, that some of us are really working very hard to produce our content and test our recipes, author books, design products, etc. When people KNOW you then respect is the next natural step if you're good at what you're doing. So take time to tell your readers today, or this week, just SOON -- who you are and what you do and a little bit about how you got to where you are and you can do that by writing a better blog bio.
Am I upset at Martha? Nope. Does she owe bloggers an apology? Nope. In fact, if she came back to apologize I would lose a bit of respect because there are too many people in this world who say what they mean then back-peddle just to save their skin and who needs more of that? One thing I've learned living among Germans (and Europeans in general) is to just call a spade a spade and move on. No sugar coating needed. It's healthier to just say how you feel than to constantly live one way to the public and another way at home. Many of my peers sent me the video and when I first watched it, I honestly only felt surprised because I know how supportive she has been in the past to bloggers including me - I was on her radio show (proof!) as a guest when my second book released. I didn't really understand where her comment was coming from. Then I thought that perhaps she is just frustrated for whatever reason and most likely, that reason comes down to not understanding the big picture. We all get frustrated in business - especially when we're being forced to work with and understand people who are self-publishing online at remarkable rates who are changing how people digest information. Ten years ago, everyone ran to magazines for the latest content and trends but today it's a different story.
One thing Martha said that was particularly interesting to me was a point she made about how bloggers are not experts. I want to speak to that point for a brief moment. I don't think most of us really go online to hear what the experts think when it comes to the hottest new color for Spring, we'd rather see what our favorite fashion blogger is predicting because it makes us feel like part of something larger and we can contribute by commenting with our own predictions. There is this friendship thing that makes the expert thing not so valuable these days (to me, at least). I don't need an expert to help me find a dress for a party or to recommend a lipstick. I need experts to give me medical advice and to help me with my taxes. See what I mean? Decorating isn't rocket science, nor is fashion or art or anything else that most of us in the creative community share online. We mostly just want friends and support, people who care about us, not experts, to give us opinions so we can walk away with some new ideas that "our blogger friend in New York found". I'm not online to learn expert opinions on topics that are so totally subjective anyway - I'm online to see what Sania is up to and what Bri is wearing and what Joy's daughter Ruby is up to over on Instagram and whether or not Garance has posted any more of her fabulous Pardon My French videos. What do you think?
So bloggers, who are you? Maybe if you want to answer that question on your blog you can - and then link your BIO below. That way, I can learn more about you and so can my readers but mostly, because it's just good that you do it for yourself.
Keep your chin up, my friends. Often criticism is gold in disguise.
(image: holly becker)